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The Need for Reform
November 6, 2009 at 8:19 pm #84949
NOT sure whether this points out the need for Insurance Reform or Health Care reform or ????
BUT IT SURE DOES POINT OUT THAT THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN BIG TIME!
From Channel 10 Sacramento Ca
SACRAMENTO, CA - The parents of a Sacramento State student beaten to death in his dorm room received a bill from the UC Davis Medical Center -- a bill for nearly $30,000.
The hospital admitted the bill was a mistake since Scott Hawkins had insurance.
But many asked how the hospital could charge so much for only five minutes in its emergency room.
The hospital says the bill is correct and reflects the services the staff provided to Hawkins after he was beaten by his roommate.
But what could possibly cost $30,000 in five minutes? Some say the answer is why we have a health care reform debate.
"It's impossible for me to describe how stunning it was," said Gerald Hawkins, Scott's father.
He and his wife received the bill less than 12 hours after they laid their son to rest.
"Once I saw the contents, I didn't want to show my wife," he said. "I didn't want her to see it because it brought up powerful feelings and so many questions and so much confusion."
Questions like how or why? Scott was only there for five minutes before doctors declared him dead.
Scott Seamons with the California Hospital Council said the critical response to Hawkins is what cost the most. He said UC Davis is a Level 1 Trauma Center, which means the best and most expensive doctors were waiting for Scott.
"Whether it was five minutes or 55 minutes doesn't really matter in the initial review and assessment of the patient," he said.
Trauma surgeons, nurses, technicians and others had to treat Scott before they realized they couldn't help, according to Seamons.
"They're all right there," he said. "And those are highly trained, highly specialized and highly paid clinical experts. Clearly in the aftermath, in hindsight, they looked at it and determined there was probably less need for that, but in the first five minutes all of those resources were right there at the side of this patient, and they cost a lot of money."
But Jennifer Smith with the Health Rights Hotline says that's the problem. Plus, since Hawkins was originally thought not to have insurance, this case fuels the national healthcare debate.
"The uninsured have the least protection, there's no one advocating for them to have a lower price," Smith said. "Bills of that size may put people into significant medical debt and/or bankruptcy, and no one should have to face that simply for going to their emergency room for a true emergency."
Seamons agrees to an extent, saying a review of the system would be a good start.
"From the cost side to the service to the coverage and access side, all of those elements claim to be addressed in health care," he said. "It has yet to be seen exactly what comes out in the stew."
However, Seamons adds that the bill, charging for high level trauma teams and rescue services would be the same had outcomes been different.
"Had Scott Hawkins still had a glimpse of hope and not having been traumatized to the degree that he was they would have done everything in their power to save his life, and this would be a different story."
Also included with the bill was a letter addressed to Scott indicating he was now considered indigent and if he needed more medical treatment, to go to a county clinic.
UC Davis profusely apologized, stating the letter was never intended for the Hawkins.
Gerald Hawkins says the issue is being resolved with their insurance company.
He wants this to be a lesson to hospitals to put a human touch back into their broken automated process.
News10/KXTV Copyright 2009
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